Sunday, October 30, 2005
Rearranging the bedroom is going to be the project for this afternoon/evening as is pricing online some living room furniture. Outfitting the living room is way overdue. I think I’ve found a home from my Ancient Futon so that will clear the way for the procurement of a few matching pieces. I’m certainly not going to buy anything expensive. I have cats, after all, and whatever I buy they’ll most likely just tear up in time. Inexpensive and moderately respectable are the main buying points. Ikea, anyone?
And, of course, before and after pictures will be taken. Whether I post them or not depends on the degree I’m able to transform the living room from a cold, heartless, undecorated room to something passably livable, warm, and inviting. Given my complete lack of skill in this area, the room upon becoming furnished will probably be colder and more heartless. My friends will have to help with this. Otherwise, I will never hear the end of it.
What might be interesting is to turn the living room project into a “community/group effort” of sorts for those out there who relish such endeavors. I could post images of the current layout, specs of the room, and the look I’m considering and get feedback/recommendations from whomever happens by the blog.
Hmmm. May have to give this some thought.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Maybe a two hour nap wasn’t on the agenda, but it was nice nonetheless. Since crawling out of the warm bed just a short while ago, I’ve ambled over to Starbucks, talked briefly to various people whiling away their afternoon over coffee, tea, and pastries, and returned with my own Cup of Life. Once I become saturated in caffeine, I’ll begin some of the cleaning/organizing/sorting chores on today’s agenda.
Never made it out to Barnes and Noble, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or the Asian market this morning. There’s always tonight or tomorrow; no hurry, really. I did, however, make the much needed grocery run to Harris Teeter. I walked instead of drove, which limited the number of things I could buy. It’s only four or five blocks, but that’s a long way to carry armloads of bags. So I just procured what I needed for the weekend plus a few additional odds and ends.
I can feel the beginnings of a truly wonderful caffeine buzz. This is a good sign as I’ll become a blur of jittery activity for at least a few hours. So much can be accomplished with proper caffeination. Certainly this is a sign of addiction, but there are worse vices.
Off to be productive.
Other than having emergency pager duty, it’s going to be a free day. I want to be productive, though; to take care of a number of activities in which I’ve fallen behind or have wanted to do for a while now, but just haven’t had the time (or have simply been too lazy). Among the things on today’s agenda:
1. Grocery shopping. This is sorely needed as the kitchen is practically void of food. Even as creative as I try to be in the kitchen, I simply can’t do much with a bag of coffee beans, salt, and pasta. So today I’ll be making runs to the Asian market and the local grocery store. I made the list this morning and this task will be today’s priority.
2. Cleaning. The bedroom need a good cleaning and the study need organizing.
3. Barnes and Noble. For a change I’m in the mood to read a novel. Not sure what, exactly. I’ll just browse the shelves until something strikes my fancy.
4. Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Need to replace the baking dish that I dropped last Sunday as well as pick up a few kitchen essentials. Should make a list for this shopping trip to and STICK TO IT. It’s Bed, Bath, and Beyond, after all. I can spend far too much in there if I am not mindful.
5. Finish sorting through old clothes. This ties in with (2), but not quite so I will assign it it’s own number. I need to make a little more room in the closet before buying some new things.
So I guess we’ll see just how many of these things I can get done today.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I’ll probably make a run to the Asian market out in Virginia Beach in preparation for next week’s annual office fall cookout. I’ll be making chicken or pork satay and/or lap kai (savory chopped chicken salad) and need to get some essential ingredients that are virtually impossible to procure from a regular market. My contribution to the cookout should prove interesting given that many of my staff are steak, potatoes, and apple pie sort of people whose idea of international cuisine consists of French fries or possibly even Canadian bacon. Hopefully my skills at preparing Thai cuisine are polished sufficiently to provide passable renditions of these dishes. But if not, who’s going to notice anyway? It will be a unique offering either way.
Clothes shopping may also be on the agenda this weekend. Over the last few evenings I’ve been hauling fall and winter things out of storage and it’s all too big now. Causal “lounge around the apartment” things are still passable given their limited function, but dress shirts and pants..well, they have to go. The shirts were a little large last year, but now they’re huge. On a windy day they would billow like sails. Can’t have that. The same problem (if it can be called that) exists with pants. Way too big now. I look like an ill-clad hobo when I put on last year’s clothes. Hardly respectable. Ah well. The consequences of successful dieting.
But I wouldn’t necessarily call the process of the last year “dieting.,” per se. It’s more along the lines of simple behaviour modifications rather than any real attempt at dieting. The word “diet” has so many negative connotations and I don’t like using it. I prefer to use the more accurate phrases “changes in behavior,” which may or may not constitute dieting depending on ones definition of the dreaded “d” word. I’ve been much more mindful of what I eat, when I eat (very few late dinners and no snacking), moderate alcohol consumption, and small adjustments such as walking to the grocery store or bank instead of driving. I certainly don’t starve myself and do indulge in the late meal or the unneeded margarita or beer every now and again. But the key is moderation. Taken together, these small changes have made a real difference and various people have certainly noticed and their favorable comments are a source of inspiration. At least partially. Unfortunately, all too frequently someone says something like “Wow. You’ve really lost weight” followed by “Have you been sick?” The latter irks me to no end. The implication is one can’t simply improve themselves on their own; there has to some underlying cause.
I still have about ten or so pound more to go before I reach the goal of once again being officially lean and lanky. Lanky really isn’t all that hard to do as I’m six foot two. Lean..well, I’m still working on that. Once I reach my goal, I’ll start the next step and that is to work on adding some muscle. This will likely mean joining a gym, and going to the gym is something I utterly detest. The last time I joined a gym, I think I went there no more than 20 times over the course of my two year membership. This is pathetic of course, but in my defense, the gym was dark and creepy, hardly an environment that inspires physical activity (unless fleeing the place counts). Rejoining a gym (and actually going there regularly) will be exactly like the whole behavior modification (“diet”) thing. It’s all a matter of proper focus. The hardest part is deciding to make some changes and starting down that path.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
A steady cold, wind-blown rain has fallen since late this morning. Perfect night to curl up under a blanket and read. Off to do just that.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Below is an image I took today that seems interesting on some level. I think I’ll call it “Same, but different.”
Anyway…..off to get busy.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I haven’t done much reading lately, at least not since the bout with cluster headaches back in early September. At least I think it was early September; the weeks are going by so fast that I’ve quite lost track. I’ll read a few pages here and there, usually before bed, but I haven’t engaged in any of those all day “read-a-thons” that I enjoy. I still have “Guns, Germs, and Steel” that I bought back in early August that I’ve barely started (and I was hoping to be finished with it by the start of Sept) so that’s going to be the project over the next few weeks.
One recently acquired book that I’m rather enjoying it Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Finding Our True Home,” which is Thay’s translation of and commentary on the Amitabha Sutra. A rather insightful work that I’ll post on in greater detail at a later date. Very thought provoking.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Something else about today’s visit will keep me out of fast food places: behaviour of the staff. Two employees were in a rather heated argument about who had duty at the drive-up window. The staffer at the window obviously thought she had been stuck there beyond her allotted shift and her replacement was obviously in no hurry to take over. At one point, they were all but yelling in each other’s faces and brandished their weapons: one had the French fry scoop and the other, a drive-up customer’s drink. Before the argument became an exchange of salt, fries, ice, and soda, the manager temporarily suspended her search for a lost roll of dimes to break things up. A pity, really as a fast food fight would have added entertainment value to the long wait for my food.
Monday, October 17, 2005
So to summarize the weekend:
1.) The research Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning went well and didn’t take as long as in months past due to the lateness of the season. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) one insect group on which I’m conducting a taxonomic study was collected in relative abundance, so I spend more time at the microscope this week than in sessions past taking care of various curational procedures (e.g, pinning, labeling, specimens, etc).
2.). A friend and I went to a relatively upscale, trendy Latin American restaurant about four blocks from the apartment called Luna Maya. Despite the fact that it’s been there about five year, this was my first visit and certainly won’t be my last. The food was first-rate and the ambiance was….well…orange. Minimalist décor save for a few mirrors and lamps against a backdrop of orange walls all around. In the subdued lighting the color actually worked well (e.g., I didn’t once feel I was dining inside a pumpkin). Certainly will be back.
3.) I attended (and did the cooking for) a casual dinner part at a friend’s condo Sunday evening. Prepared basic Italian cuisine (homemade soup, spaghetti , etc) and it turned out well…so well in fact, that we’re having another dinner party there next Sunday with French cuisine featured this time around. It’s a little more involved and I’ve started putting together the menu. Will have dust off my pastry baking skills this week in preparation for the cook-a-thon next weekend.
All in all, a very good weekend. Very busy and productive and most importantly a lot of fun.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
The next few weeks are going to be a lot of fun. The days will progressively get shorter and cooler, the nights crisp and clear, and the research season will draw to a close leaving weekends free for road trips or just lounging about on warm afternoon with a book over at the coffee shop. Summer clothes will be packed away and the fall/winter wardrobe hauled out of storage. This year most of the cool weather wardrobe will go away as what I wore last year no longer fits and needs to be replaced with smaller sizes and nicer styles.
Anyway…I’m off to gather the field equipment and think about heading out of here. Should be a good, quick afternoon of research.
Friday, October 14, 2005
The continual gloom took a toll on my office today. Several of the staff, including my secretary, “abandoned ship” at lunch leaving only a skeletal staffing arrangement. This was just as well since it was a Friday, which are usually slow anyway. I spent my day either puttering about in my office or preparing slide mounts of various beasties in my lab next door, none of which was truly essential, only a way to pass the time in a somewhat productive manner. Busywork can certainly be an asset from time to time.
So it’s late Friday afternoon and I wonder what I’m going to do with the evening. No real plans, though a friend mentioned having a “movie night” over at his place. May have to make an appearance depending on my energy level and movie selection. Energy level shouldn’t be a problem as I’ve just finished off a cup of coffee strong enough to ward off any thought of or desire for nap time.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Sunday, October 09, 2005
The beach was all but deserted this morning. It was cloudy and cool with mists and fog in the air, certainly not optimal weather for most beachgoers. A strong northeast wind roused a continually growling surf and the beach was littered with marine vegetation left by the churning, crashing waves. I walked for miles this morning past the occasional shore bird pecking about in the vegetation and small sand crabs scurrying here and there, avoiding the overwash of waves, the gaze of hungry shore birds, and my steps. I don't know honestly how far I walked before retracing my steps back to the access point. It may have been a mile. It may have been two miles. No matter, really. Time and distance meant little on a day like this.
Yesterday was far too lazy of a day and I feel guilty for the singular lack of productivity. Today will be different, though as of yet there's nothing on the agenda. Perhaps I'll do some cleaning and laundry, both of which I lacked the fortitude to accomplish in the lazy blur that was yesterday. I plan on doing some cooking tonight. No reicpe, no specific plan; I am going to see just how creative I can get with a few basic ingredients. This is when cooking gets fun.
I'm feeling restless today. Once the morning routine is complete, I think what I'll do is grab the digital camera, hop in the Jeep, and just go. No destination, no goal. Just go wherever the road leads.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Testing Blogger's new image uploading feature (OK...it's not necessarily new, only new to me. I believe it's been around a few months). These are my cats, annoyingly sweet and sometimes just annoying. But that's what they're supposed to be. They're cats, after all.
A second pot of coffee is brewing and I'm feeling much better now that I've had lunch. I awoke this morning with a bit of a hangover due to perhaps one margarita too many last night whilst out having dinner and drinks with my sister and her fiance. Not a serious hangover, mind you; simply a minor headache and a somewhat groggy feeling, both of which began to dissipate with water and coffee rehydration therapy. It's quite remarkable just how much my alcohol tolerance has dropped this year. I feel like such an amateur.
My gosh, the rainfall is abosolutely intense right now. And it's so very dark out. The street lights on Colley Ave (the main drag) are on and there's not a pedestrain to be seen. I don't think we've had such rain since Hurricane Isabel blew through here in September of 2003. It was certainly a wise decision to cancel the fieldwork this weekend. The ecological preserve is almost certainly by now a lake. Of course having a Jeep makes this but a minor detail. :-)
The in-country ininerary for Honduras is coming along well. I found out yesterday that my local contact is setting up a side trip into Guatemala which will last anywhere from one to three days depending on what else is planned. I'm excited about this as we'll venture futher into the heart of Mayan country. Next up is organizing a few days in La Mosquitia, the vast expanse of unpopulated, rarely-explored rainforests in easter Honduras. I hope there will be time to fit this trip in, but if not, I can always head back down there in April.
Anyway...off to read and relax with a coffee.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I'm almost tempted to go back to the office tonight to work on a couple ongoing projects in the lab. The key words here is "almost" and I'm not quite inspired enough to head back to the office; I spend too much time there anyway. But it's so different there at nights and on weekends when no one else is around. No phones, no employees, just the task at hand and wonderful, wonderful silence. Perhaps I'll just go in early tomorrow and get some things done before staff starts to arrive.
Earlier this year I painted my office (ok..I didn't actually do any painting, I had others do it) and generally gave it a very personalized makeover including assorted accents acquired during my time in South America and Thailand. Despite the criticism that it looks like a National Geographic episode, the office turned out well and I've been enjoying the fruits of my....no, wait...other's labor since. The next project will be converting the empty office next to mine into my personal laboratory. I'm already using it in this capacity, though infomally. A long lab table, compound and dissecting microscopes, and trays of assorted microtools and related equipment. It's functional, but it can be so much more than what it presently is. We do have a main lab complete with all the bells and whistles, but it's general use and given the time and space-consuming nature of my projects, a more secure workspace is needed.
Possibilities....so many possibilities.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Off to putter about the apartment.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
It's a pity that the discovery came at the end of the research season. Several good reserach questions have arisen from the finding, but we'll have to wait until the next field season to conduct the experiments. But on the bright side, it is something to think about and prepare for during the offseason.